Friday, July 22, 2011

Keepin' It Real

Good Morning ;) I'm baaa-aaaccccccckkkk! Did ya miss me? I certainly missed you!!!!! As I was laying in bed all of 5 hours ago trying to fall asleep, God started then laying on my heart what He wanted me to share with you today. I'm going to warn you: my goody-two-shoes image is about to come crashing down! If you know me, you already know this about me, but if not, let me tell you something about myself. I believe in total transparency. I believe that unless people can see the changes and work God is doing in my own life, they're never going to believe He can do it in theirs. So, I live by this philosophy that allowing you total access to what is in my heart, what I feel, think, and live, is vital to being a good witness for our Lord. That's what today's post is going to be about. We're just keepin' it real!

Ok... the past week has been TOUGH on me. I'm gonna be frank. It's been AWFUL. You know, it's easy to keep your peace and joy when things are going great. It's even easy to keep it when things are just starting to go downhill, because it's easy to keep believing that God will fix it. But when you spend day after day, night after night, crying out to Him, begging Him to fix your problems and give you some relief from the storm you're under, and He isn't answering you in the way you want Him to, it becomes a lot more difficult to keep that peace and that joy. Fear, anxiety, stress... they all overwhelm you and you find yourself sinking quickly into a sea of desperation. Remember Peter? Jesus asked Him to trust Him, and Peter blindly walked onto the stormy sea towards Him. He was so excited, and so in love with Jesus. But then those waves started lapping up at him, and he took his eyes off of Jesus for just a MOMENT. ONE MOMENT. That was all it took before he began to sink. (Matthew 14:22-36)

That's been my week. I started out so strong in my faith (so I thought!) and following Jesus. Then the storms took over (our financial crisis) and I became more cut-off from my wonderful, supportive, and encouraging Christian friends, and I looked at the storm instead of at my Savior. I could hear Him telling me the entire time "You have so little faith, why did you doubt Me?". But yet, I continued to doubt. Even now, my faith is nothing like it was just a week ago. I'm struggling. I KNOW that God is not going to leave me in trouble. He's going to take care of me and my family. He always does. But the enemy is whispering in my ear on a constant basis, trying his best to deceive me with his lies. "He's forgotten you. He doesn't love you anymore.", "He isn't real. God doesn't exist.", "Why do you care? Why do you strive for righteous living when He chooses to leave you in this pit of despair?". I was even considering leaving my husband at one point this week. Yes, you read that right. Because I don't love him? Nope, I adore my husband. And I am completely against divorce after going through it once already. But because I had let the enemy convince me that the only solution to our financial crisis was for me to leave my husband and go back to Alabama. That way, we could get government assistance with food and necessities, and my husband could get a smaller, cheaper home to live in here that would be more affordable. Satan convinced me it was what needed to be done, that it was what was best for all of us. I even TOLD my husband I was leaving him. In a text. Thank God for an awesome friend who I texted asking for prayer telling her what was going on. She snapped me back to reality and helped me to put my focus BACK on my Savior.  So many lies, and I've come SO CLOSE to believing every one of them, even though I KNOW they are lies. Not only because the Bible tells me so, but because my life experiences tell me so. I KNOW THAT MY SAVIOR LOVES ME, and that He will provide my needs, and He will rescue me from this storm. But yet I doubt.

Yesterday, I did the 2nd lesson in the Women of Faith study entitled "Living Above Worry and Stress".  The title of this lesson is called "Fear and Trembling". It was packed full of great advice, quotes, and scripture references intended to help you build on your faith and overcome your fears. I'm going to share some of my favorites with you.

Psalm 112:7 NLT
They do not fear bad news;
      they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Read that entire chapter, will you? Psalm 112 is a roadmap to what a Christian should look like. As a matter of fact, I'd like for us all to commit to reading that Psalm every day for the next week, starting today. It's only 10 verses long. You can find time to read an extra 10 verses. That scripture ALWAYS encourages me.

Mark 5:36 NLT
But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

Let's take this one in context. Jarius had sent for Jesus because his daughter was dying (starting around verse 21). He begged Jesus to come with him and lay hands on her and heal her. By the time they reached his house, she had died. Messengers from his home had come to meet them and told him that she was dead, that there was no use bothering Jesus now. But Jesus heard them, and told Jarius to "just have faith". Of course, the rest of the story is one of Jesus's many wonderful miracles. When they reached Jarius's home, Jesus told them to stop weeping, she is just sleeping. He told her to wake up, and she did! If Jesus can raise the dead (more than once, mind you!) then why can't I seem to trust Him to (insert your current situation here)?  Jesus doesn't want us to fear our situation, He simply wants us to trust Him.

Matthew 10:31 NLT
So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Pretty self-explanatory. God values you. You are treasured and adored by God. If He treasures you half as much as you treasure your husband and children, and He does, much more so, then why would He allow you to fall into harm's way? I mean, as much as you would lay down your life instantly for your children, wouldn't He.... wait... He DID. But He didn't just give His own life, He gave his SON'S life. Something to ponder.

Genesis 15:1-6 NLT
1 Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”
 2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”
 4 Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”
 6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

That. That's exactly it. I want to have the faith of Abram (who later became Abraham). God promised Abram as many descendants as there were stars. Do you realize how many stars there are? Me either. I can't even begin to comprehend it. And Abram believed Him, simply because God said it. Hasn't God told us He will never fail us or abandon us? (Hebrews 13:5). Hasn't He promised us that He'll provide ALL of our NEEDS? (Philippians 4:19). So, since He said it, shouldn't we be like Abram and BELIEVE it? I want to have the faith of Abram. 

Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

There it is again. He will not fail us or abandon us.

Isaiah 41:10 NLT
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
      Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
   I will strengthen you and help you.
      I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Again. Don't be afraid. Don't be discouraged. He will give us the strength and help we need to get through this storm, if we just TRUST Him to do so.

And finally, in the words of our Savior, Jesus Christ

John 14:27 NLT
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Peace of mind and heart are a gift from the Holy Spirit. This is a peace that can't be found in anything the world has to offer, only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When you're walking with Him daily, you have nothing to fear!

Now, I leave you with a couple of quotes in this lesson. These really struck a chord within me.

There resides in the heart of every believer little pockets of fear. For some of us it's cowardice. For others, it's timidity. Although we know the Savior gives courage and power, sometimes we feel safer in our little pocket than in His big provision. So we cower inside, afraid to be bold. We permit our human frailty to stand in the way of His strength. 
~Luci Swindoll

Sometimes we are afraid to reach out and live the life that we believe we have been called to. But fear is no friend. It may seem to protect, but it slowly suffocates. 
~Sheila Walsh 
(she wrote the book I'm about to review, as well)

Fear is indiscriminate. It affects all of us regardless of our age or position in life. Whether our fear is absolutely realistic or out of proportion in our minds, our greatest refuge is Jesus Christ.
~Luci Swindoll

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